An analysis of technology support services for small and medium sized enterprises in selected industrial parks of Pretoria
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This research project provides an overview of the South African unemployment challenge as well as the various options considered to address this challenge, of which one is the utilization of the Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMME) Sector. A detailed description of the government approach in using the SMME sector as a vehicle for addressing unemployment is provided. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), which is the lead department responsible for driving the SMME sector is discussed as well as the supporting technology role of the Department of Science and Technology (DST). The research reviews major SMME policy interventions emanating from both the DTI and DST, particularly after 1994. The broader role of SMMEs in an economy is also discussed with a particular focus on developing countries such as South Africa. This includes: • a description of the various roles SMMEs can play in an economy; • an overview of key SMME policy interventions post 1994; • the problem statement; and • a discussion of the research objectives, with reference to the primary objectives as well as the secondary objectives. The research further provides an overview of the research method followed, the process followed in acquiring data, and the boundaries and limitations of the research project. Further to this, a brief overview of the mini-dissertation is also provided. The research proceeds to provide a perspective of the South African technology challenge "the innovation chasm", as well as alternatives that could be pursued by government in addressing these challenges in Chapter 2. The research provides a description of technology challenges faced by South Africa and how these technology limitations manifest themselves in the SMME sector as reflected on the technology S-curve. A limited international overview of various SMME technology transfer programmes and institutions used is also provided. The research provides a detailed analysis of SMME support interventions across the various spheres of the South African government; key line function departments are identified as well as their respective policies, programmes and institutional support. The study is supported by literature and empirical research. The empirical research was mainly a questionnaire designed and implemented to gather empirical data as defined in the problem statement as well as in the two research objectives. The first focal area of the empirical research was the identification of the types of SMMEs operating in the industrial complexes which were selected for the study. In this regard, the set of questions was designed to solicit information pertaining to critical attributes of SMMEs as determined by the DTI classification. The survey then focused on elucidating the technology management modalities of SMMEs as well as how these related to the current government-led SMME technology interventions. As per the problem statement, the survey then concludes by investigating technology development within the SMME sector. The research project concludes by considering and evaluating key findings emanating from both the literature survey as well as the empirical research that was conducted during the course of the study. The literature study as well as the empirical research both leads to the same conclusion regarding the problem statement of the weaknesses in SMME technology support and technology development. On the basis of the literature survey and empirical research findings, the following conclusions were then reached: • The current government SMME technology interventions do not adequately meet the technology needs of the SMMEs; and • There is insufficient or lack of technology development within the SMME sector. Limitations of the current interventions relating to technology development were then identified, as well as a recommendation on a set of interventions that could be employed to reverse this negative trend. In addition to these recommendations, a proposal is made on possible future research areas for further investigations which could complement the findings of the current research project.